by Craig Kwasniewski
Instead of a typical 316 report on the Lakers 100-86 win over Portland I'd like to break down the first real match-up (Oden injured his knee and barely played back on opening night) between Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum. In all reality we are at least 2 years before both players are relevant focal points so I'm really focusing on the little things like footwork and post skills:
Advantage Oden: His lower leg strength. Oden was able to get low post position and back down Bynum any time he wanted to. Despite being a rookie, Oden's footwork is very polished as he moved Bynum all over the place by lowering his center of gravity and using those boat-sized feet. Bynum simply doesn't know how to use his legs to leverage his man out on the low block on offense. Kenderick Perkins bodied him away from the key a few weeks ago and I thought it had more to do with intimidation until I saw that Oden did the same tonght. And Bynum doesn't have a mid-range post game so he just looks awkward with the ball in the post. Despite the excellent footwork, Oden's offensive skills are very raw. His post move (no "s" he only has one move) is a Chris Webber-like shot put hook shot. And like a Webber it barely comes close to going in. But we know that with Oden's work ethic he will eventually get an offensive game to match his post up ability. Bynum needs to work on leg strength and lowering his center of gravity on the post.
Advantage Bynum: His offensive rebounding skills. Bynum reminds me of Marcus Camby on the offensive glass. A mix of good timing, quick hands and LENGTH allowed Bynum to get his hands on a fair share of offensive boards tonight. Oden works the glass with brute strength but Bynum's wiry physique actually got over and around Oden for a few boards... Just like Camby.
Who's better? That's hard to call considering both teams don't depend on either to carry them. But right now I'd say Greg Oden is more NBA-ready simply based his footwork and efficient use of his size. He knows how to clog the lane defensively and is a good rebounder. Bynum's not playing with the same confidence as last season and it shows as Phil Jackson rarely uses him down the stretch. So right now it's Oden, but if Bynum stops sulking then maybe it's a different story.
The present and future: Both players clearly have the skills and work ethic to be a factor for years but they just aren't there right now. Oden needs to work on his offensive skills and Bynum needs to work on his footwork. But both benefit from playing on quality franchises that have the patience to allow them to develop. Basically they're not asked to carry their respective teams right now. In fact both franchises are stable and are able to see the "big picture" with these guys.